Urban myth states that urine works well against jellyfish stings, although it is at best ineffective and in some cases may make the injury worse.
Human urine is normally relatively free of bacteria, since the bladder itself is normally a sterile environment, and drinking small amounts of one's own urine is unlikely to be harmful. However, the urethra does contain bacteria, and this is why urine therapy practitioners use the mid-stream urine and why many physicians ask for a urine sample mid-stream, in order to allow the first few seconds of urination to wash out the bacteria within the urethra. Urinating on jellyfish stings is a common folk remedy, but has no beneficial effect and may be counterproductive as it can activate nematocysts remaining at the site of the sting.
A doctor in America had his medical license removed for dispensing a form of urine therapy.
What you should do in case of a jellyfish sting
When stung by a jellyfish, first aid may be needed immediately. The stings of Scyphozoan jellyfish are not generally deadly, though some species of the completely separate class Cubozoa (box jellyfish), such as the famous and especially toxic Irukandji, can be fatal. However, even nonfatal jellyfish stings are known to be extremely painful. Serious stings may cause anaphylaxis and may result in death. Hence, people stung by jellyfish must get out of the water to avoid drowning. In serious cases, advanced professional care must be sought. This care may include administration of an antivenin and other supportive care such as required to treat the symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
There are three goals of first aid for uncomplicated jellyfish stings: prevent injury to rescuers, inactivate the nematocysts, and remove any tentacles stuck on the patient. To prevent injury to rescuers, barrier clothing should be worn. This protection may include anything from panty hose to wet suits to full-body sting-proof suits. Inactivating the nematocysts, or stinging cells, prevents further injection of venom into the patient.
Vinegar (3 to 10% aqueous acetic acid) should be applied for box jellyfish stings. Vinegar, however, is not recommended for Portuguese Man o' War stings. In the case of stings on or around the eyes, vinegar may be placed on a towel and dabbed around the eyes, but not in them. Salt water may also be used in case vinegar is not readily available. Fresh water should not be used if the sting occurred in salt water, as a change in tonicitycan cause the release of additional venom. Rubbing the wound, or using alcohol, spirits, ammonia, or urine will encourage the release of venom and should be avoided. There is no scientific evidence that urine, ammonia, meat tenderizer, sodium bicarbonate, boric acid, lemon juice,freshwater,steroid cream, alcohol, coldpack or papaya will disable further stinging, and these substances may even hasten the release of venom. Pressure immobilization bandages, methylated spirits, or vodka should never be used for jelly stings. Often in severe Chironex fleckeri stings cardiac arrest occurs quickly, so Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be life saving and takes priority over all other treatment options (including application of vinegar). Activate the emergency medical system for immediate transport to the hospital.
Once deactivated, the stinging cells must be removed. This can be accomplished by picking off tentacles left on the body.universal precautions. After large pieces of the jellyfish are removed, shaving cream may be applied to the area and a knife edge, safety razor, or credit card may be used to take away any remaining nematocysts. First aid providers should be careful to use gloves or another readily available barrier device to prevent personal injury, and to follow standard
Beyond initial first aid, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may be used to control skin irritation (pruritus). To remove the venom in the skin, apply a paste of baking soda and water and apply a cloth covering on the sting. If possible, reapply paste every 15-20 minutes. Ice can be applied to stop the spread of venom until either of these is available.
Urine therapy. (2008, September 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:03, September 26, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Urine_therapy&oldid=240562853
- ABC News: Old Wives' Tale? Urine as Jellyfish Sting Remedy
- Fact or Fiction?: Urinating on a Jellyfish Sting is an Effective Treatment: Scientific American
- Jellyfish Sting Treatment - How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting
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Jellyfish. (2008, September 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:03, September 26, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jellyfish&oldid=241141034
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